One of the advantages of working in a big multinational company like Expedia is the fact that you can get in touch with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Even though email, chat, video conferencing and screen sharing can speed up remote collaboration, nothing beats the dear old face to face communication with a white board to display concepts when it comes to make shared decisions effectively, having the possibility to use non-verbal communication that gets lost with remote tools.
Also the physical presence and knowledge of the other really helps to relax the minds of stakeholders to take and analyze different points of view in a constructive way, and for these reasons in the week from 11th to 15th of January I had the opportunity to visit Hotels.com office located in central London, in the Angel Building.
The Angel Building
Located just few steps away from the Angel Underground and a few minutes walk from King’s Cross train station, the Angel Building is an impressive modern structure covered with large windows that allow plenty of natural lighting, with modern and essential interior design.
Of this huge building Hotels.com (aka Hcom) currently owns 2 and a half floors, even the meeting rooms are made of sound proof windows, helping to increase the perceived magnitude of the spaces.
Being a 5 floors building with very high ceilings, from the spacious balcony on the roof top you can enjoy a breathtaking 360 degrees view of London’s skyline.
Thanks to the vastness of the open space, the amount of people and the apparent frenzy of each team activities, if you come from not much crowded workplaces, at first glance you will feel like being tossed into a financial trading hall, but it takes just a few hours to better grasp instead the order and the organization that rule the activities of the various “islands”.
Being locate in a very central area, every street offers all kind of meeting places such as pubs, restaurants, fast foods. If you’re in the area you can certainly try the Gallipoli Bistro, a Turkish restaurant with a bit of an eclectic look that offers great cousin for affordable prices.
One note, the many colorful chandeliers that adorn the ceiling of the room make it quite challenging for people taller than 1.80 to move around, but the quality of food is excellent. I personally had the Mixed Grill of meat, accompanied by salad and onions, rice and chorizo, excellent cooking and spicy to the point of being nicely tasty instead of numbing the tongue.
One aspect to be taken into account when willing to go out for dinner is that the most renowned restaurants in the area can be very crowded in the evening, so the best thing to do is to collect intel before and book tables well in advance. The queue could be as long as up to 2 hours or more, with the risk of having to fall back on less palatable choices, forewarned is forearmed…
Technology enthusiasts will probably be familiar with the term unboxing, which describes the detailed documentation in first person of a new product starting from the box and describing the content, well Hotels.com came up with the idea to introduce the same concept for the overnight stay services.
The contest called #unrooming, open till 26th February 2016, provides a format very similar to unboxing, where customers will document the first impressions of their hotel room in a 30-second video, also providing prizes for the participants.
Here are some photos of the room 527 of the DoubleTree Hilton where I’ve been during my stay in London, featuring equipment to make hot drinks and cookies in the evening, and a hearty breakfast buffet in the elegant lounge in the morning.
Beware of cunning taxi drivers in Rome
A tip for all travelers who may find themselves in need of a taxi in Rome, to expose immediately a cheating Taxi driver, usually those that directly approach you trying to put in hurry to make you jump in the car, just specify that you need to pay with POS and have a receipt, in this way the majority will give up or come up with an absurd estimate, specifically when landed in Rome I got proposed 75€ for a ride from Rome Fiumicino to the north of Rome at 8pm, whereas with 3570 taxi service the same route by night was just 45€. It’s way better to take the Leonardo Express to Termini and from there take a taxi from inside the Aurelian Walls, or alternatively book a taxi with 3570 the same day before landing.